Political Law

Herminio Astorga vs Antonio Villegas

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G.R. No. L-23475 – 56 SCRA 714 – Political Law – The Legislative Department – Journal vs Enrolled Bill – Conclusiveness of the Enrolled Bill; Exception 

In 1964, Antonio Villegas (then Mayor of Manila) issued circulars to the department heads and chiefs of offices of the city government as well as to the owners, operators and/or managers of business establishments in Manila to disregard the provisions of Republic Act No. 4065. He likewise issued an order to the Chief of Police to recall five members of the city police force who had been assigned to then Vice-Mayor Herminio Astorga (assigned under authority of RA 4065).

Astorga reacted against the steps carried out by Villegas. He then filed, before the Supreme Court, a petition for “Mandamus, Injunction and/or Prohibition with Preliminary Mandatory and Prohibitory Injunction” to compel Villegas et al and the members of the municipal board to comply with the provisions of RA 4065. In his defense, Villegas denied recognition of RA 4065 (An Act Defining the Powers, Rights and Duties of the Vice-Mayor of the City of Manila) because the said law was considered to have never been enacted. When the this said “law” passed the 3rd reading in the lower house as House Bill No. 9266, it was sent to the Senate which referred it to the Committee on Provinces and Municipal Governments and Cities headed by then Senator Roxas. Some minor amendments were made before the bill was referred back to the Senate floor for deliberations. During such deliberations, Sen. Tolentino made significant amendments which were subsequently approved by the Senate. The bill was then sent back to the lower house and was thereafter approved by the latter. The bill was sent to the President for approval and it became RA 4065. It was later found out however that the copy signed by the Senate President, sent to the lower house for approval and sent to the President for signing was the wrong version. It was in fact the version that had no amendments thereto. It was not the version as amended by Tolentino and as validly approved by the Senate. Due to this fact, the Senate president and the President of the Philippines withdrew and invalidated their signatures that they affixed on the said law.

Astorga maintains that the RA is still valid and binding and that the withdrawal of the concerned signatures does not invalidate the statute. Astorga further maintains that the attestation of the presiding officers of Congress is conclusive proof of a bill’s due enactment.

ISSUE: Whether or not RA 4065 was validly enacted.

HELD: No. The journal of the proceedings of each House of Congress is no ordinary record. The Constitution requires it. While it is true that the journal is not authenticated and is subject to the risks of misprinting and other errors, the journal can be looked upon in this case. The SC is merely asked to inquire whether the text of House Bill No. 9266 signed by the President was the same text passed by both Houses of Congress. Under the specific facts and circumstances of this case, the SC can do this and resort to the Senate journal for the purpose. The journal discloses that substantial and lengthy amendments were introduced on the floor and approved by the Senate but were not incorporated in the printed text sent to the President and signed by him. Note however that the SC is not asked to incorporate such amendments into the alleged law but only to declare that the bill was not duly enacted and therefore did not become law. As done by both the President of the Senate and the Chief Executive, when they withdrew their signatures therein, the SC also declares that the bill intended to be as it is supposed to be was never made into law. To perpetuate that error by disregarding such rectification and holding that the erroneous bill has become law would be to sacrifice truth to fiction and bring about mischievous consequences not intended by the law-making body.

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